Venezuelan FM Attacked by Argentine Police Outside MERCOSUR Meeting

Rodriguez says she was “thrown to ground” by riot police who sought to physically prevent her from attending the foreign ministers' conference. 

By Lucas Koerner
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Venezuelan FM Delcy Rodriguez is obstructed by Argentinian police (Pagina12).
Venezuelan FM Delcy Rodriguez is obstructed by Argentinian police (Pagina12).

Philadelphia, December 15, 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez was reportedly assaulted by Argentine police Wednesday while attempting to enter a MERCOSUR meeting in Buenos Aires. 

Rodriguez says she was “thrown to ground” by riot police who sought to physically prevent the top Venezuelan diplomat from attending a conference of the regional integration bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. 

Venezuela was officially suspended from the bloc on December 2 over its alleged failure to comply with internal trade and human rights protocols. 

However, Rodriguez has accused the right-wing governments of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil– dubbed the “Triple Alliance”– of perpetrating a “coup” in order to deny Venezuela the bloc’s six month rotating presidency which it was set to assume over the summer.

Last week, Venezuela announced that it would invoke the Olivos Protocol, which was created in 2002 as a mechanism for resolving disputes within the multilateral body. Nonetheless, the “Triple Alliance” reportedly boycotted a subsequent meeting scheduled to discuss the widening rifts among the member-states. 

On Wednesday, Rodriguez flew to Buenos Aires, vowing to attend the meeting in her legal capacity as president pro tempore of the organization. 

In the company of Argentine social movements and Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca, Rodriguez was reportedly “beaten up” by police bearing shields and nightsticks who closed off the vicinity of the Argentine Foreign Ministry. 

The MERCOSUR foreign ministers’ meeting was suddenly moved to another location in the Argentine capital possibly in response to the incident, reports the BBC. 

“In no part of the world have foreign ministers been welcomed by blows from riot police,” Rodriguez exclaimed following the altercation outside the Argentine Foreign Ministry. 

She added that the violence against her person reflects “the political intolerance towards the integration model represented by the Bolivarian Revolution”. 

Venezuela was admitted as a full member of MERCOSUR in 2012. However, the regional bloc has moved sharply to the right following the election of millionaire businessman Mauricio Macri in Argentina last year and the ouster of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in what was widely termed a “parliamentary coup” this past May.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro denounced the attack on the country’s foreign minister, who he indicated may have suffered a fracture of the collar bone. 

“[This has] never been seen before. The violence of an intolerant right-wing has returned, which instead of seeking to strengthen a social MERCOSUR of the peoples, has imposed a retrograde plan of destruction and division of MERCOSUR,” he stated, speaking from the commemoration of the 12thanniversary of ALBA in Havana, Cuba.  

Bolivian President Evo Morales also spoke out against Rodriguez’s violent treatment at the hands of Argentine police. 

“In light of the lack of respect towards our Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez, we express our solidarity with her in the face of the aggression by the Argentine police,” he declared via his official Twitter account. 

Bolivia, which is in the process of becoming a full member of MERCOSUR, was also excluded from the conference. 

Later in the afternoon, Rodriguez held a private meeting with Argentine Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra, which reportedly ended “without reaching any point of agreement”. 

Malcorra, for her part, promised, “Venezuela will be reaccepted in MERCOSUR when it fulfills its commitments.” 

As the new president pro tempore of the bloc, the Argentine head diplomat also indicated that Venezuela will be invited to the next foreign ministers’ meeting to be held in Uruguay the following Thursday. 

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